Eric P. Bloom: 8-step process to maximize delegation effectiveness (part 1)

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One of the great things about being a manager is that you can delegate various types of tasks to other people instead of having to do them yourself. This may sound like a rather cavalier statement, but it’s true. As a manager, to do your job efficiently and effectively, you must delegate various types of tasks to your staff. If you don’t delegate, you will be overworked and your staff will be underutilized. In fact, you do a disservice to your staff if you don’t delegate because to inhibits your staff’s ability to learn new things and grow as professionals.

Like all management activities, delegation must be done in a thoughtful, ethical, and forward thinking manner. To that end, consider the following tips when delegating tasks to your staff, contractors, vendors and others.

1. Clearly define what can and cannot be delegated: As a manager, be mindful of what should and should not be delegated. For example, specific tasks may contain proprietary information that should not be shared at your staff’s organizational level. As a second example, there are tasks that your team members may not be qualified to perform, thus setting them up for failure. Lastly, don’t just dump unwanted activities onto your staff to get them off your plate. Your team will eventually figure this out and it will hurt your credibility as their manager.

On the positive side, delegation can be a powerful tool to maximize your team’s productivity, enhance their skill set, help them grow professionally, and free you up to perform higher level tasks. All that said, make sure that you are delegating the right tasks for the right reasons.

2. Create a prioritized delegation plan: Now knowing what to delegate, your next step is to develop a plan outlining what tasks should be delegated to which staff member. When determining who gets which tasks, you should consider the following:

- Who is fully qualified to perform the task. - Who could perform the task with proper instruction and mentoring with the goal of enhancing their skill set. - Who should not be given the task because of their professional weaknesses and/or specific political situations/reasons. - Who deserves the task based on seniority, past performance, and relevant considerations. - The visibility and importance of the task to your department and/or company.

Delegating the right tasks to the right people is not always easy and/or popular, but if you do it with transparency, fairness, consistency, and for the good of the company your staff will learn to respect your decisions, even if, from time to time, they don’t like how a specific task was delegated.

3. Provide clear instructions and define specific expectations: There is nothing worse than being delegated a task, not given instructions on how the task should be performed, not told what is expected, working diligently to complete the task, and then being told it isn’t what they wanted. If this has ever happened to you, then you know what it is like to be on the receiving end of this demoralizing and frustrating situation. Don’t be the creator of this type of situation. Give specific instructions as to what needs to be done and your expectation of the ending result. This combination of proper instructions and expectation setting not only provides the correct delegation framework, it also establishes criteria as to how he/she will be judged when the task is completed.

In this week’s column we established the importance of delegation and the three steps in an eight step process designed to effectively delegate tasks to your staff. Next week’s column will contain steps four through eight.

The primary advice and takeaways from today’s column is to know that:

- As a manager, to do your job efficiently and effectively, you must delegate various types of tasks to your staff. - If you don’t delegate, you will be overworked and your staff will be underutilized. - The first three steps of the eight step process were included in this week’s column; the remaining steps will be listed next week.

Until next time, work hard, work smart, manage well and continue to build your professional brand. Eric P. Bloom is the president and founder of Manager Mechanics LLC, a management training company specializing in information technology leadership and is the governing organization of the ITMLP and ITMLE certifications. He is also a keynote speaker, nationally syndicated columnist, and author of the books “The CIO’s Guide to Staff Needs, Growth, and Productivity,” “Your IT Career: Get Noticed, Get Promoted, and Build Your Professional Brand” and “52 Great Management Tips.” Contact him at, follow him on Twitter at @EricPBloom, or visit